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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Exposure of mice to secondhand smoke elicits both transient and long‐lasting transcriptional changes in cancer‐related functional networks

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Secondhand smoke (SHS) has long been linked to lung cancer and other diseases in nonsmokers. Yet, the underlying mechanisms of SHS carcinogenicity in nonsmokers remain to be elucidated. We investigated the immediate and long-lasting effects of SHS exposure on gene expression in mice in vivo. We exposed mice whole body to SHS for 5 h/day, 5 days/week for 4 months in exposure chambers of a microprocessor-controlled smoking machine. Subsequently, we performed microarray gene expression profiling, genome-wide, to construct the pulmonary transcriptome of SHS-exposed mice, immediately after discontinuation of exposure (T0) and following 1-month (T1) and 7-month (T2) recoveries in clean air. Sub-chronic exposure of mice to SHS elicited a robust transcriptomic response, including both reversible and irreversible changes in gene expression. There were 674 differentially expressed transcripts immediately after treatment (T0), of which the majority were involved in xenobiotic metabolism, signaling, and innate immune response. Reduced, yet, substantial numbers of differentially expressed transcripts were detectable in mice after cessation of SHS-exposure (254 transcripts at T1 and 30 transcripts at T2). Top biofunctional networks disrupted in SHS-exposed mice, even after termination of exposure, were implicated in cancer, respiratory disease, and inflammatory disease. Our data show that exposure of mice to SHS induces both transient and long-lasting changes in gene expression, which impact cancer-related functional networks. The pattern of transcriptional changes in SHS-exposed mice may provide clues on the underlying mechanisms of lung tumorigenesis in nonsmokers. Our findings underscore the importance of eliminating SHS from environments where nonsmokers are unavoidably exposed to this carcinogen.

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